No Shorts aircraft in Belfast

PMN1

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From Janes Fighting Aircraft of World War II

In June 1936 Short Bros Ltd in collaboration with Harland and Wolf Ltd formed a new company known as Short and Harland Ltd to build aircraft in Belfast.


If Shorts had joined up with another company not in Northern Ireland, what effect would that have on British aircraft procurement?
 

pf matthews

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It is possible that the Sunderland flying boat would either not have come into being (unlikely as the first flight of this aircraft was in 1937) or it might have had a different manufacturers name attached to it.
One thing I could see coming from an alternate 'merger' would be no Belfast freighter. I believe this and several other Shorts projects only came about because of Shorts Belfasts unique position within the British aircraft manufacturers whereby they were to all intents and purposes Government owned, and, because of the unique Political scene in Northern Ireland, there was a considerable U.K. Government bias when awarding some contracts.
 

starviking

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I think, given the situation at the time, and the location (distance from Germany...) some kind of aircraft production in Belfast was likely. Anyhow, wasn’t the tie-up with H&W encouraged by the Air Ministry?
 

Hood

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Well if Shorts had been encouraged to build another factory safe from German bombers, say in Scotland, then history would have been different.
For sure the rationale of keeping employment at Belfast ongoing has been a continuous thread since 1945 in all aircraft procurement and has raised its head many times. It still does today (C Series wing manufacture concerns which saw the government back Airbus against Boeing, Bombardier now trying to poach wing construction from Airbus factories in other parts of the UK).

So yes, projects like the Shorts Belfast etc. may never have gotten off the ground. On the other hand its possible that the desire to keep men in work would have seen more naval construction given to Harland & Wolff. As a related question on this point, has anyone ever come across mention of ship orders allocated to H&W to keep their men in work?
 

CJGibson

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I was resisting the urge to contribute to this and have lasted all day, but not any more...Shorts has a certain fascination for me.

Even if the Air Staff had ordered the HP.111, as they wanted to, Shorts would have built much of it, as they did with the RAF's Britannias - slower and more expensive. There was much debate on whether the HP.111 wings should go to Belfast or the fuselages to Radlett and how would that be done.

Also, for R.2/48, Sunderland replacement, Shorts took the piss and were sent back to the drawing board to redesign their 'passenger' flying boat as a military aircraft. Despite Saro being the winner as far as the Air Staff were concerned.

That point about Belfast being far away from German raids resurfaced postwar as reason to give Shorts the R.2/48 job rather than Saro.

Chris
 

alertken

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A to PMN1's Q is: none. Because if it had not been Shorts that was shot-gunned into a Belfast bed, it would have been AN Other mainland firm.

1935/36: every Parent was swamped with production. Sunderland+Stirling must be farmed out to Agencies/Shadows/sub-contractors, just like every other minnow-parent. It was not for design firms to select who would be their Production Group Members. We did that, as we were paying. For the Big Bombers...

HP was fairly easy. George Nelson had been a school mate of Fred HP, who accepted that EE would revert to locos after Victory, would be no future business threat to HP, so was happy to put Hampden, then Halifax there. Vickers was utterly recalcitrant on Warwick, which they perceived themselves as owning. Air Ministry sighed and saved their strength for the later battle, where Sir R McClean had to be fired before Spitfire sub-contracting could deliver (he should have been put in the Tower). Manchester was put into MetroVick without excess fuss from HSA. So, that left Stirling to be resolved in parallel with Sunderland. Both must be moved from Rochester, in Heinkel range from Germany.

The State in 1935/36 did not own Harland: bankers did - it was near-insolvent. They had built 600 a/c in WW1 (inc. 5+3 kits HP V/1500): Churchill's The World Crisis has their “sturdy and ardent men” building warships with “extraordinary celerity”. A.M. 1935/39 would bring other marine yards into Aero, inc. Denny/Dumbarton for 240 Sunderlands: marine had both production engineering competence and distance from Heinkel. No-brainer to put Stirlings and Sunderlands there.

But if A.M. had juggled, say Manchester there, instead of next door to Avro, at Trafford Park/MetroVick...post-War the State would have had the same problem in occupying "H&W Aero"/Sydenham that we had with SB&H. Most, near all, the other wartime shadows had left Aero to try find other markets. Though we did not own H&W, we must preserve its employment base - indeed moving higher on the political agenda after Eire left the Commonwealth 18/4/49. We had been obliged to eject Oswald from his own firm and to buy it, 23/3/43; we decided in 1946 that it had no priority over all the other empty sheds, so we closed Rochester Airport Works, Medway Works 7/48. But we could not close Sydenham...and we would have found make-work if it had been Avro-and-Harland Ltd., and even if we had no equity in it (from 3/43 we owned Short's 60% of SB&H, from 6/48 82%, and from 1975, when H&W expired, 100%.)
 
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